[Sca-cooks] Gastronomica on Spice Trade, Apicius and Martino

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Sat Jun 2 07:21:32 PDT 2007

> Suey commented:
> <<< Someone had a reference back there to chile and tomatoes being
> taken to
> Europe by Cris Colon. He could have but American foods took about 150
> years to set in. >>>
> Uh, not quite right. It is fairly easy to find examples of New World
> foods which were accepted in Europe pretty quickly and others which
> didn't catch on until 1600 CE or later. Generally the closer a New
> World food item was to a European variety, the faster it got accepted.
> The two you mention above are examples of each situation.
> Tomatoes did not catch on until mid to late 16th century or later. On
> the otherhand, chili peppers caught on fairly quickly.

I believe Suey was addressing Spanish cuisine specifically and was 
commenting on the evidence for general acceptance and common use in the 
cuisine.  In the case of tomatoes and peppers, there is evidence of use from 
the 16th Century, but, I would argue, evidence of widespread use doesn't 
appear until the mid- to late-17th Century.  I suspect the earliest adopters 
were returned Conquistadors, who had developed a taste for the New World 

> Pineapples were another quickly accepted item, because they were sweet.
> Potatoes were late, although Sweet Potatoes were accepted quicker
> than white potatoes.
> I don't remember how quickly New World beans caught on, but they
> eventually drove out the cultivation and eating of most European beans.

Sweet potatoes were common in the Caribbean and were in use from 1492 on. 
Wide use among the seafarers of the various nations active in the Caribbean 
led to early widespread adoption.  Beans were probably adopted fairly 
quickly.  White potatoes didn't arrive in Europe until about 1540 and were 
primarily botanical specimens, the flavor being insipid compared to the 
sweet potato.  Remember that Gerard only received his first specimens in 
1586 and Clusius got his in 1587, so general European availability didn't 
occur until sometime in the 17th Century.

> <<< It is not until Philip IV the next century or the
> commencement of the Borbon reign in 1700 in Spain that you can begin to
> see their incorporation in Spanish cooking.>>>
> Nope. See the above files. Spain and Italy were often the first
> places many New World foods were first eaten, but many were being
> eaten long before the 1700s. Maize was being incorporated in polenta
> in northern Italy before then. However, Italy and Spain were not the
> only countries to quickly accept some New World foods. The "turkey"
> is called that because it was accepted in Turkey first and then was
> accepted from there to other parts of Europe.

Adoption of a foodstuff in another part of Europe does not demonstrate the 
adoption of that foodstuff in Spain even if it was introduced through Spain. 
Nor does knowledge of some use presume common use.  The generality of the 
evidence does not negate the specific statement.

Grewe pointed out that there are no known Spanish cookbooks from between 
1611 and 1745, so we have no accurate guide to the recipes that became 
common in Spain in the 17th Century.  Our knowledge is extrapolated from 
other sources and may be in error.

The appellation, turkey, was apparently applied to the Guinea fowl during 
the 15th Century when the Portuguese appear to have reintroduced the bird 
from Africa.  Other opinions have the Guinea fowl being reintrodced from 
Turkey and using the term, turkey, as a marketing gimmick.  The term was 
then transferred to the bigger, better bird from the New World, or that is 
the common opinion.

> Perhaps Lady Brighid can fill you in more on the Spanish manuscripts
> which include New World foods. I don't remember if there are any New
> World foods in her translation of Ruperto de Nola's 1529 "Libre del
> Coch" or not, but she may be familiar with later manuscripts as well.
> Stefan


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